The desk's frieze is inlaid with laurel-festoons and fretted ribbons, in the antique fashion introduced in the 1760s and popularised by Robert and James Adams' Works in Architecture, 1773-4. The same pattern is inlaid on a commode acquired about 1780 by the Empress Catherine of Russia and attributed to John Linnell of Berkeley Square, while related festoons, as well as columnar legs inlaid with trompe l'oeil flutes, feature on Linnell's bedroom furniture and a 'rich inlaid' bed that the architect Robert Adam designed in 1779 for Osterley Park, Middlesex (see H. Hayward and P. Kirkham, William and John Linnell, London, l980, figs. 119 and 304 and M. Tomlin, Catalogue of Adam Period Furniture, London, 1972, Group L). The writing-table with a French 'tambour' cylinder is likely to have been introduced in the mid-1780s, as it appears in the 1787 Estimate Sketch-Book of Gillows of London and Lancaster (see L. Boynton, (ed.), Gillow Furniture Designs 1760-1800, Royston, 1995, fig. 4). The latter design included a book-shelf top as features on another desk, of the same pattern as the present one, that was formerly at Warnham Court, Sussex (Exhibited 'Treasures from Sussex Homes', Worthing, 1951 and sold from the collection of the late Mrs A.E. Goldberg, in these Rooms, 20 November 1986, lot 122). The flute-inlaid leg and laurel-festooned frieze, together with the present pattern of laurel-wreath handles, appears on a satinwood commode, that was at Claremont, Surrey in the 19th Century (advertised by Messrs. Howard in The Connoisseur, June 1977).
The use of ebonised borders, seen here on the drawers and the tambour itself, is a recurrent feature of Mayhew and Ince's work, and appears on a related commode confidently attributed to Mayhew and Ince, sold by E.R. Hanbury, Esq., Burley-on-the-Hill, Rutland, in these Rooms, 6 July 1989, lot 147. This was almost certainly supplied to George Finch, 4th Earl of Nottingham and 9th Earl of Winchelsea (d. 1826) for Burley-on-the-Hill. The use of engraved marquetry decoration is also a characteristic of the work of Mayhew and Ince, while the very distinctive richly-figured satinwood is identical to that on lot 85 in this sale, which leads to the possibility that that pier table too was made by Mayhew and Ince.